27 June - 3 July 2014 #713

Circus Kathmandu in Europe

The performers are all Nepali children who were rescued from trafficking or the streets.
Marit Bakke in OSLO

THE CIRCUS ACT: Members of Circus Kathmandu rehearse their group act before a performance at the Kalvoya Circus Festival in Norway.
Circus Kathmandu has arrived in Norway, and it is not just any circus. The performers are all Nepali children who were rescued from trafficking or the streets.

The circus was set up four years ago by the British charity, Freedom Matters, after it rescued the children from circuses in India where they had been sold by human traffickers. Circus Kathmandu put their acrobatic skills and charisma to good use with structured training in a safe environment.

Earlier this year, Circus Kathmandu performed a fundraiser in Dubai prior to the current tour of Norway. The 10 circus performers are between 18-25 years old now and have been putting up shows for Norwegian school children and conducting workshops.

Circus Kathmandu had its first show in Pokhara in May last year. The performers also conducted workshops among street children and in factories.

After initial funding from Freedom Matters, Circus Kathmandu is now earning its own keep.

Circus Kathmandu's first trip to Europe was hosted by Xanti Circus.

A girl shows her skills with hoopla rings during a performance.

It was a great disappointment last year when they were refused visas to perform at the Glastonbury Festival in England, but they finally made it to Europe after staging events at the Kalvøya Circus Festival, Norway. Their five ”Swagatam” performances from 20-22 June was greeted with huge applause from the audience as the Nepali performers showcased somersaults, acrobatics with rings and re-enactments of their difficult childhood days.

Ali Williams is founder and creative director of NoFitState Circus, a 28-year-old company with an international reputation for creating innovative contemporary circus. She did a 14- month sabbatical in 2012-13 in Kathmandu working with Circus Kathmandu. Understanding the group’s potential , Ali brought in volunteer trainers, including Felipe Salas from Colombia.

The team goofs it up for the camera after a rehearsal.

Felipe knew exactly what was at stake, having himself lived on the streets from the age of three before joining Circocolombia. He now works with homeless children to help them to become circus artists.

”Felipe told us to work hard, he pushed us,” says Rajan, one of the performers.

Ali is full of praise for the determination and talent of Circus Kathmandu members, some of whom were trafficked into Indian circuses before they were rescued, rehabilitated and educated. In Norway, Circus Kathmandu has been hosted by the Xanti Circus.


Read also:

Nepal’s circus champs, Rubeena Mahato

Juggling with young lives, Pranaya SJB Rana

A faraway rescue, Rubeena Mahato